Russell Wilson Could Turn the League on Its Head in 2016
Since entering the league, Russell Wilson’s led a charmed career. He was a third rounder, and not even held in the same conversation as Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin. … However, he has done more in four years than his celebrated peers combined: four straight playoff appearances, two Super Bowl trips, and one ring. In fantasy he has also been impressive, finishing as a QB1 all four years of his career, and the overall QB3 in each of the past two seasons. He could have his best season yet in 2016.
Easily the most impressive thing about Wilson is his ridiculous efficiency so far as an NFL passer. Take a look at his efficiency numbers compared to elite NFL quarterback Drew Brees with help from the RotoViz Career Graphs App.
Brees is the NFL passing yards leader since Wilson entered the league in 2012, and Wilson has matched him tit for tat in terms of efficiency, especially in 2015 where he blew Brees away. The Saints signal caller has obviously attempted more passes, but pass for pass, Wilson is among the best in the league.
Wilson’s game hit the next level in the second half of 2015. Take a look in the RotoViz Game Splits App.
For a half an NFL season, Wilson averaged three touchdown passes and about 280 yards passing per contest. He was averaging a shade over 9 yards per attempt, and had about a 12.5 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio. I don’t think anyone expects him to do that over the course of a full season, but Wilson certainly opened up everyone’s eyes as to just what his potential could be as a real life and fantasy passer.
Efficiency + Volume = Facemelt
While Wilson has never accumulated a ton of pass attempts, it is important to note that he has taken a larger role in the offense every year with Seattle.
As I noted before, Wilson’s efficiency hasn’t dropped off at all in the wake of this increased volume. In fact, he posted career highs in yards per attempt and adjusted yards per attempt in 2015, his largest volume season to date. So what kind of passing numbers could he put up in 2016? Let’s take a look at some potential outcomes.
I put together these outcomes using some historical data from Wilson and projected pass attempt numbers. The first row for each attempt number represents the results based off of Wilson’s career averages. The second row uses his 2015 numbers. The last, facemelting row, is using his second half 2015 splits. This is obviously the least likely outcome, but it shows that Wilson’s upside truly is scary. It is also clear that even a modest increase in attempts will allow for him to put up some really strong passing numbers.
What About the Legs?
You’ll notice that I haven’t spent much time talking about what has consistently made Wilson a fantasy option, even as a rookie: his legs. Take a look at his career rushing numbers.
As you can see, Wilson is adding a healthy amount of fantasy value every year on the ground: about five fantasy points per game. That kind of rushing output has allowed Wilson to be a top flight fantasy quarterback without ever cresting 4,100 passing yards and having just one season with over 30 touchdown passes. Imagine what could happen if his passing stats receive a nice bump in 2016.
QB1 at a Discount
Wilson has been going last of the “big four” quarterbacks in both our 10 team and 12 team mock drafts. However, I think a really strong argument could be made for him as the overall fantasy QB1 for 2016. Especially with the loss of Marshawn Lynch this offseason, and the contract extension given to Doug Baldwin, Wilson could have the largest role of his career with Seattle in 2016. When that happens, he will have seemingly endless fantasy upside, and should be a priority for 2QB drafters looking to start their draft with a signal caller.